FILE - Gas station, fuel tax, infrastructure

A new survey of Illinois manufacturers shows overwhelming opposition to a possible gas tax hike.

Eighty percent of respondents to a survey from the Technology and Manufacturing Association rejected the idea, even if the revenue were earmarked for infrastructure improvement. Steve Rauschenberger, president of the TMA, said members are frustrated by broken promises.

“In conversations with my board and my membership, there’s an overwhelming mistrust of Springfield’s stewardship with tax money,” Rauschenberger said. “They’re tired of the bait-and-switch that the next tax increase is going to solve the problem only it doesn’t solve the problem, the problem gets worse.”

The TMA is made up of small-to-medium-sized manufacturers across the state, with anywhere from ten to 200 employees. Rauschenberger said those businesses are overburdened with taxes and fees as it stands.

“Illinois is a high-tax state already,” Rauschenberger said. “We pay extraordinarily high property taxes. We pay some of the highest sales taxes in America. Our new income tax is in the upper third or quarter of what states pay. And none of that has led to investments in infrastructure or reform of workers comp or improvements in our K-12 system.”

Rauschenberger said his members use roads across the state on a daily basis and understand the need for improvements.

“My members believe infrastructure ought to be an important priority for the state of Illinois, but they’re not willing to give more money until they see better behavior and better stewardship out of the legislature,” Rauschenberger said.

The question on the survey only asked about a fuel tax increase, but Rauschenberger said he believes members also would oppose any plan for a mileage-based tax.

“They believe, I think, overwhelmingly that Springfield has a spending problem, and until the addict stop taking the drug, you can’t make anything better,” Rauschenberger said.

A radio veteran with nearly twenty years of experience, Scot Bertram is the General Manager of Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM, the student radio station at Hillsdale College. Bertram is also the co-host of "Political Beats" for National Review Online.

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